One day not too long ago it suddenly hit me:
Social media is making me lose my mind.
Not the “going crazy” kind of losing my mind (although some days that’s debatable.)
More like the “I’ve lost the ability to think for myself” kind of losing my mind. The fear of missing out drives me to my social media feeds countless times a day only to discover that I am indeed missing out! In the moments that I’ve been away, there have been amazing new developments, such that little Hedgehog’s Birthday Party or important updates in world news like the latest yoga pants wars.
So last month I broke up with Social Media.
Now, as a blogger and a fan of social media for a number of reasons, completely turning my back on this modern-day form of communication is not really an option for me. I do value the community that it can build, the good that it can accomplish and the ability to connect with people at a moment’s notice. And yes, I am hoping you will share this post on Facebook. Ironic, I know.
But for the month of January, I decided to “break up” with social media. Essentially, that meant I wasn’t going to post anything on Facebook or Instagram (since those are my main distractions) and I wasn’t going to check my newsfeed. I did allow myself to check my notifications on Facebook since many of them are blog-related.
Here’s what I did instead of checking Facebook:
I read books. (Emphasis on the S.)
I had Downton Abbey-viewing parties with friends.
I daydreamed without checking my phone to be sure I wasn’t missing anything. I had completely forgotten how to do that.
I played in the snow with my boys…TWICE. (Yes, I am counting.)
I watched movies without checking my phone to be sure I wasn’t missing anything.
I spent more time making food than looking at other people’s pictures of food.
I potty trained my son – my apologies to Facebook for the lack of updates on our progress. I hope you’ll forgive me.
I played the piano – and was pleasantly surprised to discover that I still remember how!
Which led to singing special music with my son and some friends in church- something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.
I had lunch dates and coffee dates and playdates without checking my phone to be sure I wasn’t missing anything.
I felt peaceful.
I felt kinder to my kids.
Here’s what my breakup with the world of social media made me realize.
1) I miss boredom.
Yes, you read the correctly. I miss being bored. I get my very best ideas when I’m bored because it allows me time to dream. This Bored and Brilliant series from NPR encourages people to try disconnecting from their phone for a week to embrace boredom and mental downtime. Brilliant, right?
2) I wonder if maybe social media is making us all kind of sad.
This thought occurred to me right before I decided to take a break. It was after I caught myself yet again mindlessly checking my newsfeed rather than engaging with real-life people. Truth be told, my break up with social media convinced me it’s true. Turns out, I’m not the only person who has wondered that.
3) I need more Focus in my life.
I had forgotten what it feels like to cook dinner without checking my phone or play with my kids without checking my phone or brush my teeth without checking my phone. It feels really good.
4) I still worry too much about how many people “like” me.
I thought I left those days behind in Jr. High, but I still care. Taking a break from caring about getting “likes” was nice.
5) Facebook has become more “spectator media” than “social media”.
The number one reason I always give for embracing Facebook is that it’s a great way to keep up with out-of-town family and old friends. But more and more, my newsfeed has become filled with viral videos, links to articles and the latest political or celebrity controversy. Rather than connecting with family and friends, it seems I am constantly trying to weed through the “stuff” to find them!
6) It’s possible to be distracted by just about anything.
Giving up social media didn’t make me immune to other mind-numbing distractions. But it definitely gave me more control over what I opt to allow to distract me.
My Thoughts on The Break Up:
I know it sounds scary, but stepping back from social media to embrace real life is actually kind of awesome. I think everyone should give it a try.
I do think that there is a way to balance social media with real life and I’m going to give that a try for now. If I start to feel like I’m “losing my mind”, I’ll now know how easy it is to break up again (sounds kind of like a bad jr. high romance, doesn’t it?)
Want to break up with Social Media too? Here are some tips that helped me:
1) Choose a time period that is do-able.
I don’t recommend swearing off all social media forever and ever amen. You’ll likely have a hard time following through on that. Choose a time frame that you can stick with – even if it means just starting off for one day.
2) Announce your break-up on social media.
Yep. Make it Facebook-official. A little built-in accountability is never a bad idea.
3) Remove the apps from your phone.
They aren’t gone forever, I promise. It will be Ok.
4) Set up notifications if you are worried about missing out on something.
I have notifications set up for a few select people so I don’t miss out on life with those I really want to stay connected with. It’s my way of using social media in the way I think it was intended to be used.
5) Find other ways to connect.
Text, message, email, call, visit. You’ll be amazed how good it feels to personally connect with those you love rather than just “liking” what they have to say.
What do you think? Is breaking up with Social Media something you would consider – or is it too hard to do?